A transsexual athlete will also participate in the Tokyo Olympics for the first time

A transsexual athlete will also participate in the Tokyo Olympics for the first time

New Zealand weightlifter Laurel Hubbard will join the national team: 43, will compete in the 87-pound category

(Photo: Dan Mullan / Getty Images) New Zealand weightlifter Laurel Hubbard will be the first transgender athlete to compete in the Olympics. Together with Kanah Andrews-Nahu and Megan Signal, Hubbard will be part of the women's team of female lifters who will represent New Zealand at the Tokyo Games, starting July 23. Hubbard, 43, will compete in the 87-pound weightlifting category. "I am really grateful and excited," she said during a press conference at the New Zealand Olympic Committee, after the announcement of the selection.

"In addition to being one of the best athletes in the world - said Kareyn Smith , director of the committee -, Laurel has met all the eligibility criteria set by the International Olympic Committee and the International Weightlifting Federation. Gender identity in sport is a very sensitive and complex issue, which requires the right balance between fairness on the pitch and respect for human rights. As a New Zealand team we have a strong culture of respect and inclusion towards everyone. "

Transgender people have been admitted to the World Championships since 2015, when the International Olympic Committee updated its rules, opening up to all people who have made the transition. In the case of women's sports, transsexual women must report testosterone levels below 10 nanomoles per liter, at least for the 12 months prior to the competition.

Hubbard's participation is bound to be a matter of debate, however. According to some sports associations and some scholars, despite hormonal therapies, a transsexual woman would retain physical characteristics, such as bone density, which could be an advantage in competition. On the other hand, those who support the inclusion of transgender people highlight how the transition process significantly decreases these elements and that physical differences between athletes exist regardless of their sex of birth. A study published earlier this year in the British Journal of Sport Medicine, signed by Timothy Roberts, highlights how physical inequalities disappear after one or two years of hormone therapy, after which sports performance would be absolutely equal. Specifically, Hubbard completed the transition process at age 35.

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